Now more than ever, mental health supports are playing a pivotal role in the lives of students.
That’s the message the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) hopes to send with a considerable donation to support the cause.
BUSU contributed $160,000 towards Brock’s Student Mental Health Fund, helping the University make huge strides in not only achieving, but surpassing its $250,000 fundraising goal set less than a year ago. The generous donation was also augmented by $30,000 in matching funds provided by an anonymous donor.
In 2018, BUSU made a commitment to contribute $320,000 over two years towards mental health services on campus. When that campaign ended last year, the decision was made to extend the initiative for an additional $160,000 towards the 2021-22 academic year, said BUSU President Asad Jalib.
“Our mission is to foster an ever-improving student experience that is transformational, enriching and empowering. A cornerstone of achieving that mission has been our contributions to mental health services,” he said. “Contributing towards this cause in the midst of the challenging circumstances our students are facing right now has been extremely important to our team.”
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced most classes and activities online, leaving many students feeling isolated and struggling with their mental health, said BUSU Vice-President Rafay Rehan.
“Social and extracurricular activities that took place on campus always provided students with an outlet to temporarily forget about the stresses that come with academics, coursework and constant deadlines,” he said. “In an online environment and with a lockdown underway, it is much more difficult for our students to have proper school-personal life balance.”
Rehan applauded Brock for its ongoing commitment to supporting student mental health, which for the third-consecutive year has earned the University a top ranking among all comprehensive universities in Canada for mental health supports in the annual Maclean’s University Rankings.
“The most recent example of this is the extension of the holiday break that was provided to give students valuable time to rest and better prepare for the Winter Term,” Rehan said of the decision made in December. “This new normal has taken a toll on our members and BUSU is appreciative of University administration for being cognizant of their struggles.”
Funds raised for the Student Mental Health Fund will increase and improve services for students seeking mental health resources. Brock will be able to increase programming in response to surging needs and provide greater access to clinical support staff.
“Thank you to BUSU and its executive leadership for their continued support towards this important cause,” said Gord Arbeau, Associate Vice-President, Advancement and External Relations. “The University is made stronger by the dedication and excellence of our student leaders. BUSU has been, and continues to be, a generous and much-valued partner.”
While Brock’s goal for the Student Mental Health Fund was met, more support is needed as demand for mental health and wellness resources continues to increase during these challenging times.
Jalib encouraged others to support the cause and, in turn, the decision makers of the future.
“Our country will look to the students of today to solve the problems of tomorrow, and we will need them to play a vital role in the recovery of our nation,” he said. “Just as we will depend on our students, right now our students are depending on us.”
To donate to the Student Mental Health Fund, visit brocku.ca/donate and select ‘Student Mental Health’ as the designation for the gift.
In addition to its monetary contributions, BUSU will support student mental health this week through a series of Bell Let’s Talk Day initiatives. While the one-day national mental health campaign takes place Thursday, Jan. 28, throughout the week BUSU plans to launch social media and awareness campaigns, release a video about maintaining connections during the pandemic and, on Wednesday, Jan. 27, host an online yoga session.
A full list of Brock’s Bell Let’s Talk Day events, happening throughout the week from Jan. 25 to 29, is available here.